Home Safety Tips

Every year, there are many injuries and fatalities that are caused by a lack of home safety. There are many different ways you can modify your home and your daily routine to ensure safety. Here is a list of home safety tips:

1. Secure scatter rugs.

2. Have contrasting colors on transitions into different rooms, stairs, and different level surfaces.

3. Avoid using cleaners that make the floor slippery.

4. Always wear supportive shoes/slippers without an opening back.

5. Avoid walking in socks without grippers.

6. Have a night light to your bathroom.

7. Make sure steps have a non-slip surface.

8. Make sure you have proper lighting in all areas.

9. Make your bath/shower skid proof.

10. Purchase a non-slip bath mat.

11. Store heavy items below shoulder level.

12. Avoid wearing loose clothing while cooking on the stove.

13. Check expiration dates on food and medications.

14. Take your medication in a well-lit room.

15. If you have a medical history and or history of falls, invest in a medical alert system.

16. Remove clutter from your floors to avoid tripping.

17. Do not put too many electric cords into one socket.

18. Install a smoke detector.

19. If using a space heater, make sure it is 3 feet away from anything that could burn.

Common Injuries At the Gym

1. Muscle Strain– There are different degrees of muscle strains from a minor overstretching injury to a tear. To avoid muscle strains, make sure you warm up appropriately and do not lift more weight than you can handle.

2. Tendonitis-is caused by a repetitive strain to the tendon of the muscle. If you overwork a muscle, you can develop tendonitis.

3. Bursitis– is inflammation to the bursa. A Bursa is a fluid filled sac that provides decrease friction and helps to give a fluid movement to the joint. Avoid doing the same exercises all the time; change it up to avoid overuse of one particular area.

4. Back injury– due to placing increase stress on your back muscles with exercises. Avoid forward bent over postures at the gym. Bend with your knees and tighten your abdominal muscles during exercises. This will help decrease the likelihood of a back injury.

5. Shoulder impingement injury– can occur when you overuse the rotator cuff muscles. The rotator cuff muscle can rub against the top part of the shoulder blade, producing pain. Avoid overhead weighted exercises.

If you experience pain while you are working out, you should stop and apply ice. If the pain persists for more than 3 days, contact your physician or your local physical therapist at Harbor Physical Therapy.

Are you a fall risk?

Falls are the number one cause of accidental death in adults over 65 years of age. Here are 3 questions you should ask yourself to determine if you are a fall risk:

1. Have you fallen in the past 6 months?
2. Are you afraid of falling?
3. Do you feel the need to use your arms to rise from chairs or hold onto objects to maintain your balance?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, it might indicate that you may be a fall risk. A quick screening test done by a physical therapist to determine if a patient is a fall risk is called the “Sit to Stand” test. It is used to categorize patients into high, moderate or low fall risk.
Here is the Sit to Stand test in a nutshell:

1. The patient is asked to sit in the middle of the chair with their feet flat on the floor and arms folded across their chest.
2. Come to a full stand and return to a complete sitting position.
3. Repeat as many times as they are able to in 30 seconds.

Results:
8 or less times in 30 seconds = High Risk
9 to 12 times in 30 seconds = Moderate Risk
13 or more times in 30 seconds = Low Risk

If you are in the moderate to high fall risk category, make an appointment with your local physical therapist to prevent future falls.

Core Strengthening

The core muscles include upper abdominal muscle, rectus abdominus , lower abdominal muscle, transverse abdominus, internal and external oblique muscles, and lower back muscles.

Strength and power originate from the center of the body. The core stabilizes the body with arm and leg movement. If the core is weak, you have a greater chance of back injury. If the core muscles are strong, it decreases the likelihood of back injury with pulling, pushing, lifting, bending, and reaching. A strong core improves posture, balance, stability, and endurance during activity.

If you want to learn how to perform core strengthening exercises, contact Harbor Physical Therapy.

Tips to Decrease the Likelihood of an Injury at the Gym

  1. Do a balanced program. Work your whole body; don’t concentrate on just a few muscles.
  2. Use good form and technique. Don’t hyperextend the knee with the leg press, don’t let your knee go past your toes with squats or lunges, and don’t use momentum to lift heavy weight.
  3. Exercise through the entire range of motion to get optimal results.
  4. Do not lift weights too often or increase the intensity too quickly. Increase at a consistent gradual progression to avoid injury.
  5. Cross train so your body does not get used to the workout.
  6. Work on your core muscles. Strengthening your abdominals can help prevent back injuries.
  7. If you have back pain, avoid excess loads on the spine.  Such as, squats with weight, the lumbar extension machine, and twisting exercises.
  8. If you have shoulder pain, avoid overhead weighted exercises and any exercise where the arms lift out to the side.

If you experience pain while you are working out, you should stop and apply ice.  If you continue to have discomfort with exercise, contact Harbor Physical Therapy to decrease your pain with exercise and find out how to avoid pain with exercise.

Top 10 Summer Sports with the Most Injuries

As reported by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), listed below is the top 10 list of summer sports that statisically have resulted in the most reported injuries.  

If you have suffered from any injuries playing a sport or would like to learn how to prevent an injury during sport, please make an appointment at Harbor Physical Therapy.

Sports

Injuries

Cost

Basketball

1,633,905

$19.7 billion

Bicycles

1,498,252

$28.6 billion

Baseball

492,832

$6.6 billion

Soccer

477,647

$6.7 billion

Softball

406,381

$5.1 billion

Trampolines

246,875

$4.1 billion

Inline Skating

233,806

$4.2 billion

Horseback riding

196,260

$4.9 billion

Weightlifting

189,942

$2.7 billion

Volleyball

187,391

$2.1 billion

Tips to Reduce Back Pain While Driving

Most car manufacturers develop their seating options based on the aesthetics of the car versus the comfort of the driver and passenger.  Back pain can develop or increase from improper seating posture while driving.  Finding the correct seating setting is beneficial, especially for people that drive as an occupation. Therefore, listed below are some tips to reduce back pain while driving.

  1. Avoid driving for more than 2 hours at a time. Get out of the car, walk, and stretch your legs.
  2. Sit with your bottom all way back in the seat and use the vehicles built in lumbar support to provide cushion to your lumbar spine. If you don’t have a lumbar support, roll up a towel and place it in the curve of your low back.
  3. The back rest should have about a 10-15 degree incline. Most people tend to have the back rest too far tilted backward.
  4. Your knees should have about a 45 degree bend. You don’t want your legs so straight that you are reaching for the pedals. It you are short, some dealerships sell pedal extensions.
  5. Use cruise control while on long highway driving.
  6. Try to maintain good posture, and make sure you have good visibility with your mirrors.
  7. Take the wallet out of your back pocket and avoid wearing a tight belt. This can add pressure to the back.
  8. For long car trips, adjust your seat every 30 minutes. To prevent constant pressure on the same areas on your body, slightly adjust the backrest angle.

Guidelines to Prevent Injury While Shoveling Snow

It’s that time of year again when you may have to deal with the snow.  Many people injure themselves when shoveling snow.  Therefore,  here are some tips you can use to avoid a shoveling injury this year.

Guidelines to Prevent Injury While Shoveling Snow

  1. Prior to shoveling, you should warm your body up.  This can be done by taking a 5 minute walk and moving your arms in a circular motion.  This causes increase blood flow to the areas of your body you will be using to shovel snow to prevent injury.
  2. Use an ergonomic snow shovel. One with a curved handle to keep your back straight while shoveling.
  3. Push the snow if possible. Pushing the snow away is better than lifting the snow. It you have to lift it, make sure to squat with feet shoulder width apart, and bend your knees and tighten your abdominals. Don’t bend over at the waist rounding your back. You want your legs to do the work, not your back.
  4. Scoop small amounts of snow at a time.
  5. Use a shovel with a plastic blade rather than metal because it is lighter.
  6. Keep the shovel close to your body and dump the snow in front of you or pivot your feet to turn and dump the snow to the side (never twist your body).  The worst position you can be in while shoveling snow is bent over at the waist, scooping and then twisting to throw the snow.  That position puts a great deal of pressure on the discs in your spine.
  7. Use boots with good traction and once you have cleared an area, put sand or salt down to help with your traction, while continuing to shovel.
  8. Also, make sure you take breaks. Drink lots of water and avoid caffeine or smoking before you shovel.  Caffeine can cause an increase in your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels. If you experience any chest pain, make sure you call for help.

Shoveling with Good Biomechanics

How to Prevent Back Injury with Lifting and Household Chores

Many of us have gone to pick something up from the floor or move a piece of furniture and felt some type of back discomfort.  Good body mechanics during lifting or moving objects can prevent back injury by putting less strain on your back muscles.  Listed below are guidelines to prevent back injury with lifting and household chores.

Guidelines to prevent back injury with lifting

  1. When lifting an object, stand with your feet shoulder width apart or 1 foot in front of the other.
  2. When picking something up off the ground, bend with your knees and hinge at your hips keeping the normal curves in your back.  Do not slouch forward.
  3. Also, tighten your lower abdominal muscles (refer to blog topic- Can back pain be prevented?) and maintain the contraction throughout the lift. Your abdominal muscles and your back muscles work together to give support to your spine.
  4. When lifting, keep the object close to your body.
  5. Use your legs and buttocks to straighten back up, not your back.
  6. Carry things at waist level.
  7. If you must reach for the object, stand on a chair or stool.  Do not arch your back.
  8. PUSH, do not pull when you are moving an object.

Guidelines to prevent back injury with household chores.

  1. Washing dishes– to decrease back strain at the sink, open the base cabinet and put your foot up on the ledge to become closer to the sink.
  2. Vacuuming– Walk with the vacuum or lunge forward onto one foot keeping your back straight, rather than bending forward with each push of the vacuum.
  3. Making the bed– Put one knee down on the bed when fastening a sheet to the corner of the mattress or squat to fasten it.
  4. Grooming– Put one hand down on the counter in the bathroom while using the other to brush your teeth or shave. Also, you can put a foot up onto the ledge of the base cabinet as in the kitchen.

Bending at knees for objectLifting objectLifting object